Freelance translator marketing in the post-COVID world

In this guest post, Tomedes’s Ofer Tirosh shares some ideas on what translators can do to stand out in the overcrowded post-COVID freelance economy.

As translation professionals, you are no doubt well aware of just how challenging it can be to sell your services, especially if you are constantly seeking out work as an independent remote language service provider. The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent increase in freelance language workers is rapidly overwhelming and undercutting transcription and translation services everywhere. Freelancers with little to no experience are now entering the professional translation market en masse, some of whom have potential, but many are simply not competent enough.

Freelancing: now even more competitive with coronavirus

The tragic truth for the modern freelance translator or interpreter is that this influx of language workers will be devastating unless they change their marketing tactics. Many freelancing sites are seeing greatly reduced rates and an even larger number of freelancers looking for work online.

A recent article in Time cited some truly somber statistics about the freelancing market. “Upwork says it has seen a 50% increase in freelancer sign-ups since the pandemic began. Talkdesk, a customer service provider that has launched a gig economy platform, got 10,000 new applications for gig work in 10 days. Instacart hired 300,000 additional workers in a month and said in late April that it planned to add 250,000 more.” This has meant that many of those already freelancing before the pandemic are now seeing their work and income plummet due to even fiercer competition.

Source: Payoneer

Before getting into what freelance translators and interpreters can do to counteract the bloated marketplace, I want to point out that these recommendations will not work in each and every scenario or for each new client. There is no single solution that will fix every problem. Still, we are all in this together as industry professionals and, as such, we must work together to ensure that our businesses remain profitable and beneficial for all.

The following suggestions are best suited for freelance and independent translators looking to work with online content. Let’s dive in.

What professional translators can offer in a crowded freelance marketplace

First, think about what the customer is buying when they are looking to hire an interpreter or translator.

What are they looking to buy? What are you selling? What are your services? Are they the same as every other language service provider out there? If you are selling the exact same services as your competitors, how are you going to convince a potential client to choose you over a competitor? Especially in a mid/post-coronavirus world where the market is more saturated than ever.

Now, take a moment to consider what every customer really wants to know. “What’s in it for me?” or “WIIFM” as it is sometimes referred to, is ultimately the question that the client wants answering.

For better or worse, the reality is that your potential new client list may be just as satisfied with a translation from a new translator online for half the cost of your services. So should you cut your prices and undermine years of work dedicated to improving your name and reputation as a certified or professional language specialist? That’s not a viable solution. Competing on price exclusively is always a losing game.

As an experienced and certified interpreter or a professional translator, you have developed a mastery of your working languages that you need to value and protect. So, think in terms of what the customer really wants. A translated text that will actually bring them results, right? This is what you need to sell — you need to show them how far your translation services can take them and how much they can directly benefit from the results you bring as a professional translator.

Translation and transcription services — the multipurpose marketing goldmine

Source: Payoneer

There are all manner of translation jobs for digital marketing. The client wants the translation services and you want the client, so why not sell them on the added benefits that they can receive by using your services?

Video transcription is an important part of the creation of SRT (subtitling) or closed captioning files. But does the client know the true potential of transcription? Why not include an upsell for a video translation? It means more money coming in for you and the client gets the added benefit of having their video rank much higher on search engines — not only in their native language but in the translated language as well.

They also now have a written transcription that can be used to create an article in the native language and another in the translated language. You can go even further: they have the basis for a script to create podcasts in their native language as well as in the language pair from the original video translation.

Selling the whole package

As a professional freelance translator, you are not merely selling them your services, nor are you merely translating a document. You are offering them the opportunity to gain an entire multi-purposed multilingual marketing package. This is what will help you stand out from the crowd of new freelancers. Many newbies are eager, yes, but few know how to effectively sell their services.

This is why you need to offer something extra and give the client a reason to choose your services over someone else’s. This should not only open the door to more clients but also to the possibility of upselling to your existing clients.

To sum up: offering and marketing

At the end of the day, as a language service provider in the post-COVID economy, you need to be more than just a language expert — you also need to master the art of marketing and sales. This may not come easy to many translators who have spent their formative years focusing on their language skills, but going the extra mile with your offering and upping your marketing game are vital if you wish to succeed in the increasingly competitive freelance marketplace.

Ofer Tirosh
Ofer Tirosh As someone who runs a company operating in a largely remote fashion, Ofer is passionate about helping both clients and vendors adjust to the new work-from-home reality.